Dateline Seattle: Annual James J. O’Brien, SJ, Lecture Series Tackles Social Media


Twenty-four years after his death on May 26, 1994, Fr. James J. O’Brien, SJ, continues his influence in shaping society. He may no longer be able to articulate the relevance of the social encyclicals of the Catholic Church that he taught his students at the Ateneo de Naga during the ‘60s, but his influence continues through The Annual James J. O’Brien Memorial Lecture Series which started last year. The Annual James J. O’Brien Memorial Lecture Series was conceived to immortalize the vision and advocacy of the late Fr. James O’Brien, or simply O’B to his students. The lecture series brings scholarly examination of some aspects of the Bicol culture and social issues as they relate to what Fr. O’B stood for. Last year Dr. Danny Gerona, renowned Bicolano historian, lectured on the role that Fr, O’B played in the birth of Bikol studies. This year, Gemma Mendoza, Head of the Research, Partnership and Strategy of Rappler, a news website based in the Philippines, will discuss the role of social media in social change. This year’s lecture will be held at the Arrupe Convention Hall at the Ateneo de Naga University on Thursday, August 16, at 2:00 PM. The public is invited. Four reactors of the highest caliber from various professions will respond to Mendoza’s presentation. They are Dennis Gonzaga, Chairman of the Social Science Department, Ateneo de Naga University; Atty. Domnina Rances, OIC-Dean, Ateneo de Naga College of Law; Ana Liza Macatangay, Manager of PIA, Camarines Sur; and Atty. Angel Ojastro III, Senior Consultant for Urban Development, Housing and Social Legislations, Senate of the Philippines. The Annual James J. O’Brien Memorial Lecture Series is a project of O’Bikoliana, in coordination with the Ateneo de Naga University. O’Bikoliana, the Golden Legacy Project of the members of the Ateneo de Naga High School Class of 1966, is a repository of Bikol books and other related materials located in the second floor of the James O’Brien Library. Interested individuals who want to do research on the Bikol culture and history are welcome to visit the O’Bikoliana Section. Legacy has always been a concern of many people. There comes a time in one’s life that one faces one’s mortality and the thought of how one will be remembered takes over the human psyche. Thus, in 2016, fifty years after the members of Ateneo de Naga High School graduated, the class decided to leave a legacy to their Alma Mater by establishing and funding O’Bikoliana with the support of then Ateneo de Naga President Fr. Jun Viray. O’Bikoliana is similar to Filipiniana in some ways. But the major difference is that O’Bikoliana will strive to reinforce the connection between the Ateneo and the community by attracting students and cultural workers from the larger community to use O’Bikoliana as an educational resource for those interested to know more about Bikol culture and history. Through The Annual James J. O’Brien Memorial Lecture Series, it is hoped that Fr. O’B will continue to resonate with thousands of Bicolanos and will continue to touch people for many more years to come.